In the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election, some were shocked to see that Florida again voted for incumbent President Donald Trump. Many of the polls had former Vice President Joe Biden winning the state by as many as nine points. With this proven inaccuracy of polling data in the state, it is crucial to discuss the likelihood of Florida voting conservative in future elections. Although it is impossible to predict future elections at this time, many interesting demographic changes could prove useful to Republicans in the future.
The first bit of good news for Florida Republicans are 2020’s changing voting demographics. More specifically, the nearly 55 percent of Cuban-Americans who turned out to vote for Trump and the 48 percent of Latinos as a whole voted Republican in the state. This is a drastic voting shift from 2016, where 62 percent of all Latinos in Florida voted for Hillary Clinton.
Latino voter numbers in Florida are extremely troubling for Democrats. If the Democrats hope to win the state in the future, they will likely need to increase their margin of victory in the state's biggest county: Miami-Dade. This county is a perfect example of why the state went for Trump by nearly three percentage points. In 2016, Miami-Dade was a plus-29 percent Democratic voting district, whereas in 2020, the county was only plus-seven. This is a huge change, which contributed greatly to Trump's win in the state.
One of the biggest reasons counties like Miami-Dade voted for Trump was the Cuban-American support for Trump. I believe this support for Republicans was fostered by the messaging of the Democratic Party and Trump’s campaign strategy. With members of the Democratic Party like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez touting the benefits of democratic socialism, many Cuban-Americans are turned off by this and reminded of what happened in Cuba after it became socialist. The switch to socialism in Cuba led to many fleeing the country due to its failing economy and authoritarian dictator. Now, this does not mean the Democratic party has moved fully into advocating for the same kind of socialism that Cuba uses. However, it does mean Trump and many of the Republicans campaigning in the state have managed to tie the Democratic party to the messaging of people like Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Another reason for Republican victory in Florida is the support from the sparsely populated rural counties. As is the case with most states, rural counties are what Republicans use to build up vote totals. This strategy is different from the Democrats, who rely heavily on metropolitan areas to build up vote totals. As you can see with an electoral map of Florida, Republicans tend to lean heavily on the vote totals in these smaller counties to lead them to an election victory. In order for Florida to stay red in the future, Republicans will need to hold onto their massive advantage in these smaller communities.
If the Democrats hope to turn Florida blue in future elections, they will need to accomplish a few things. The first thing Democrats can do is reach out more to the Latino community. This has already been accomplished in California, where almost 70 percent of Latinos voted for Democrats. To increase Latino support, Democrats will need to specifically focus on turning Cuban-American voters blue, which can be accomplished by embracing their more moderate side and moving further away from the more left-wing members of the Democratic Party. Even though people like Sanders do not advocate entirely for all the policies that turned Cuba into what it is today, the Republicans have done a great job tying the democratic socialist movement to the Cuban government. Another thing the Democrats can do to win the state is reach out to the rural areas. These areas have long been a bastion of Republican support, and if the Democratic Party chose to heavily campaign in these areas, then they could stand a serious chance in winning future elections.
Now if the Republicans hope to keep Florida red, they will also have much work to do. First, they must continue to make inroads with the Latino community. These inroads were vital to Trump’s margin of victory in 2020, and the party cannot lose sight of this for future elections. Second, the Republicans cannot lose ground in rural counties and with elderly voters. These two groups, along with Cuban-Americans, have long been the backbone of Republican victories in the state and will need to continue if the GOP wants Florida to stay red. Last, the Republicans must bring up the fact that many more democratic socialists are being elected to Congress. Although these members of Congress are not the same kind of socialists that came to power in Cuba, it is still important for the Republicans to point this out so they can maintain their victories with moderate voters.
Bryce Robinson is a business administration sophomore and opinion writer for The Battalion.